Steelworkers at Edmonton Steel Mill Ratify New 4-Year Deal

EDMONTON, June 6, 2014 /CNW/ - Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5220 have ratified a new four-year agreement at AltaSteel Ltd., in Edmonton, Alberta.

After 11 months of bargaining, the new agreement was approved by 77.5% of the affected workers. The agreement with AltaSteel, which is owned by Australia-based mining and steel multinational Arrium, maintains important seniority, benefit and pension provisions, and includes significant wage increases.

"This was a long and difficult set of negotiations," said Paul Perreault, president of USW Local 5220, representing the 250 hourly employees at the steel plant. "Our members stood together, voted for successive strike mandates and because of that, we were able to reach a good, solid collective agreement, and beat back the significant set of concessions demanded by management."

"This settlement takes us forward and we are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement without a disruption in our production and supply to our many customers," Perreault added.

During the bargaining process, USW Local 5220 contacted AltaSteel customers and made strong alliances with and received support from the Australian Workers Union (AWU), which represents workers at many of AltaSteel's parent company's operations in Australia.

"Those international connections were critical to let the company know we were prepared for tough talks, whether at the bargaining table or in the marketplace," said Scott Lunny, Assistant to the Director for USW District 3. "But it was the patience and solidarity of the members of USW 5220 that allowed for this agreement to be reached without a work stoppage; benefiting our members, the company and the community at large."   

In addition to wage rate improvements for both trades and production workers, the new contract includes a lump sum payment of $750, improvements in vacations, new apprenticeship language including a commitment to nine additional apprentices, joint training for accident and incident investigations, increases in weekly indemnity amounts, an increase in long term disability amounts and an increase in life insurance for retirees. Importantly, all existing and new employees will continue to benefit from a defined benefit pension plan, which provides a basic retirement income of $61 per month per year of service.

"This is a strong settlement following a very difficult and protracted set of negotiations," said USW District 3 Director Steve Hunt. "Our members and our union should be proud of the work that the bargaining committee and our resource staff did to fend off the employer's concessions and make the improvements we did."

The new collective agreement between AltaSteel Ltd. and USW Local 5220 runs until July 31, 2017.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Paul Perreault, USW Local 5220 President, 780-405-6554; Steve Hunt, USW District 3 Director, 604-683-1117; Scott Lunny, Assistant to the Director, 604-329-5308